tv John King USA CNN June 23, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
easily one of the ugliest bases. >> i'm glad i'm not a houston-based flight attendant. myself esteem would be right down the rhee on grande. world report is next. in north america john kang usa starts right now. >> i'm joe johns, john king is off. a lot of important news both here and in the u.s. as well as overseas. today syrian security forces moved into yet another village only a few hundred yards from the turkish border. not only could syrian troops clearly be seen from the turkish side of the border, the move sent people in a makeshift refugee camp fleeing across the border. secretary of state hillary clinton says the united states is very concerned. >> if true, that aggressive action will only exacerbate the already unstable refugee situation in syria. recent reports are that there
are more than 10,500 syrians already sheltered by the turkish red crescent in camps on the border. >> until now the syrian government repeatedly refused cnn's request to be allowed to cover the situation inside the country, but in a dramatic reversal today, the syrians let cnn's arwa damon visit the capital city. she joins us from damascus. it seems like you'd never know there's bloodshed and revolt in other parts of the country from damascus. >> reporter: joe, the image we managed to get here in the short amount of time that we were able to get out onto the streets, we were accompanied by a government official, especially since we were intending on filming. but this part of the capital we were concentrated in is the heart of damascus itself. one has to remember the demonstrations when they were taking place inside damascus,
really happening on the outskirts. while we were there, we were hearing music blaring from a loud speaker, pro-government music. we saw a number of individuals selling all sorts of paraphernalia that had the president's image imprinted on them from party cats to key chains to t-shirts. a fair amount of anger directed at us because we're viewed as representing the west. people coming to us saying they don't want the u.s. involved anymore, they don't want foreign metalling, blaming the unrest on what is inside syria on this foreign interference. the government officials especially continuing to have this attitude where they maintain the government is targeting these armed gangs. the violence is their fault and they appear to be quite confused because they keep asking why is the world making such a big deal about 10,000 syrian refugees when a million iraqis have been displaced since 2003. joe? >> are you being accompanied by minors and do you have a feel for what's going on in the other
parts of the country even though obviously you're in damascus? >> reporter: that's quite hard to gauge. as it has been, we were reporting from outside the country, as it is from inside the capital itself. again, when we are out there, we're accompanied by these individuals. there were people who spontaneously came up and spoke to us, whether they were expressing their aggression or support for the president. we weren't really able quite yet to move out of that little isolated area of damascus we were in. this is right near the tourist old town or city. the demonstrations have been concentrated on the outskirts. joe, we did put in a request to go to the other parts of the capital tomorrow, tomorrow being friday, the muslim holy day, a day where we have traditionally seen mass protests throughout the entire country. we asked to go to the suburbs where these demonstrations are taking place.
we'll have to wait to see if the government approves that. >> arwa damon in damascus, thanks so much. we'll be following you closely. here in the united states tonight, there are morale ledged instances of what authorities call home grown terrorism. two men have been picked up in seattle after buying machine guns they intended to use in an attack on a military processing center. cnn's homeland security correspondent jeanne meserve is here with the latest. >> this is one of a series of stories we've heard on attacks at military centers. one man from seattle, a former prison inmate and another man of los angeles. apparently when they tried to recruit a third individual to this alleged plot, he went to the authorities. and at that point law enforcement was able to monitor the plot as it developed. here is a bit of sound from a press conference with authorities a short time ago.
>> the men were captured on audio and videotape discussing the attack. law enforcement monitored the suspect's actions, including a weapons transaction where they acquired automatic weapons. unknown to the suspects, the weapons they acquired had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement ahead of time and they posed no risk to the public. >> court documents say the men were unhappy about the u.s. mill tair presence in the middle east. they wanted to kill people, it is alleged, and they also wanted to inspire others to also stage attacks. they were going to do that they hoped through publicity in newspapers and right here on cnn. >> there's also this extraordinary case of the marine reserve charged with the shootings at the pentagon and the marine museum. what do we know about this? >> this is the guy who was picked up last week, friday, in arlington national cemetery. he dropped a suspicious backpack. he tied up traffic in all of
northern virginia last friday while this was unfolding. there are allegations that when authorities searched his house, they found a video in his bedroom desk, and on that video he allegedly is seen in an automobile firing on what appears to be the marine corps museum. now, the marine corps museum was one of five -- well, four installations that were hit, ve separate incidents last fall by fire. nobody was hurt but there were bullets fire. they allege this video connects him with that as well as forensic evidence. there were spent shell casings in his backpack he dropped at the pentagon. they say those are the same make as the shells used at the shootings at those various military targets in northern virginia last fall. in addition authorities say he was interested in ieds. there were allegation that is in that knapsack there were 20 pounds of i'm moan yum nitrate. >> you really want to know, don't you, was he recruit bid somebody overseas?
probably no way to tell. >> they are certainly looking at that very carefully. there was a notebook in his possession in that there were references to the taliban and al qaeda. officials still aren't willing to say whether he was a lone wolf or had any ties to those groups. >> jeanne meserve, thanks so much. another important story in washington, d.c. less than an hour ago vice president joe biden put out a statement saying his bipartisan talks on raising the debt ceilings and cutting the deficit are on hold now, even though he says they've been making, quote, real headway. tonight the talks seem to be on the verge of falling apart because a top house republican refused to take part in any more discussions. let's go to senior congressional correspondent dana bash. dana, what happened? >> what happened is that top republican the house majority leader eric cantor. he abruptly pulled out of the talks this morning, joe. he said he can't deal with this anymore because in the talks he
says democrats simply will not agree to give up the idea, from his perspective, of raising taxes. taxes has always been an issue in these talks. we're talking about trying to chip away at the deficit by trillions and trillions of dollars. democrats say, yeah, we should talk about closing loopholes. republicans say no, that's a nonstarter. there's a lot of intrigue into why this happened the way it did. democrats are saying this is about internal republican politics, that eric cantor didn't want to take the blame for negotiating anything that his rank and file republicans simply did not like. so that is part of it. but the headline is these talks, which have been going on for nearly two months, to try to get to this very important deadline and have a deal before that, that they are sidelined right now. >> what do we ex-peshlth to happen now? the clock is ticking towards the all-important august 2nd deadline where the u.s. will default on the loans if congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling? >> we're not sure.
the players are cram bling to find the answer. what i'm told is that maybe it's going to be a hybrid. what eric cantor and other republicans quickly rallied around is the idea that, we've done our part. it's time for the president to get more involved in this. it's likely that the president will get more involved as will the house speaker and maybe senate majority leader harry read. i'm told there's so much left undone, so much left they have to negotiate, it can't just be at a presidential level. maybe it will be hybrid talks. the whole idea that these negotiators have come to this stalemate when they really do need to find -- to agree to this condition which republicans have, to find trillions of dollars to cut in order to get congress to raise the debt ceilings, we're really running up against the clock. it's an important thing to remember. i'm sure people are out there scratching their heads saying, what are these guys doing? >> people do that a lot with capitol hill. dana bash, thank you so much for that reporting. coming up, president obama hits the road to talk about the
president obama hit the road today to sell his plan to draw down u.s. troop levels in afghanistan. at fort drum he assured troops recently back from afghanistan that a u.s. military withdraw will not be done, in his words, precipitously. >> no your commander in chief has your back. the president is catching flack from both ends of the political spectrum today. many democrats want a faster troop withdrawal. some prominent republicans are worried his endangering progress in afghanistan by pulling out too soon. with us cnn chief political analyst gloria borger and "time" magazine political columnist joe klein. joe, it's generally reported that president obama overruled general petraeus who wanted more troops left in afghanistan. is that true from your reporting? what can you tell us about how the president made his decision? >> well, it's interesting.
this is the second time in i think three months that the president has overruled the military. he's becoming a very confident commander in chief. he did it with osama bin laden, secretary gates wanted to have him drop a bomb. obama wanted to do it with special forces. he got his way there, very successfully. in this case, once again, he wants to go with special forces. petraeus is the advocate of counterinsurgency strategy which means a long, slow process to win over the local population. the president determined that what was really working in afghanistan over the last 18 months have been these special operations that took out a lot of the mid level taliban leadership and also a lot of the top level al qaeda leadership. this option was within the range of options that petraeus presented to him, but it was not the one that petraeus wanted to use going forward. >> so it wasn't his number one option, it was one of, what,
three or four? >> the military always gives you three or four options. the one down at the bottom with the fewest troops is usually designed to seem ridiculous as is the one at the top where we need another 500,000 troops. this is not a middle option. this is an option down by the bottom. >> he took the "you got to be kidding me" option? >> yeah, he did. what we're talking about is a very difficult piece of geography. we're talking about regional command east in pakistan which is down in -- in afghanistan, down near the pakistani border, a lot of mountains. it's really hard to do the kind of things that petraeus wants to do there as easily as he was able to do it in bagdad and kandahar and other places where you don't have ploun tans. >> it's interesting, when you think of the irony with all this, general pay tray yus is the architect of the counterinsurgency strategy which is big, has had some success as
joe points out. now he's leaving that job, he'll be the head of the cia. what does the cia do? the cia does the targeted counterterror strategy with drones, for example. in a funny way, he's going to still be in charge of the president's afghanistan policy, although he may be spending a lot more time thinking about dropping some drones in pakistan. >> the other thing is that the people were fighting in the eastern part of pakistan, the hakani taliban network, are pretty much funded by the pakistanis. this has been very frustrating to petraeus and our military. >> let me get this in, guys. in an interview today, fareed zakaria, president karzai said he was happy with obama's announcement, optimistic about the afghan's people's ability to improve the situation themselves. let's listen. >> regardless of what the
security situation in afghanistan is, it is the responsibility, the job of the afghan people to defend their country. having said that, i can confirm to you today, and i've had this confirmed by the local means, not by government means or the means of nato that security in parts of the country has improved, that life is better now. >> so, guys, what do we make of karzai's take on this? joe klein first. >> well, i think he's getting kind of what he wants. what we're going to continue to do is build the afghan national army. that is eventually the force that's going to stop the taliban. it's a pretty plausible strategy because the afghan national army is essentially the old northern ap lines on steroids. it's a nonpashtun force. it's been fighting the taliban for hundreds of years and it is a plausible way to prevent the taliban from walking into kabul. >> it's funny, though, because i
think a vote of confidence from hamid karzai is not exactly what you'd be looking for if you were a politician. nobody trusts him. people think his government has been corrupt, in fact. joe, you know this better than i do, he's been considered part of the problem more often than he's been considered part of the solution. of course, he wants us out of there. so it's in his own self-interest to applaud barack obama and say, you know what? i think this is a wonderful decision he's made and we're going to be able to defend ourselves. by the way, that works for him politically at home, doesn't it? >> gloria, one of the things that's sort of striking in all this is the wide range of positions from the republican candidates who are trying to get the nomination off and running against president obama. let's listen to minnesota governor tim pawlenty who sounds pretty hawkish. >> when america goes to war, america needs to win. we need to close out the war successfully. and what that means now is not
nation building. what it means is to follow general petraeus's advice and get the security forces built up to the point where they can pick up the slack as we draw down. >> it's unbelievable. i mean this is truly a moment of shear ignorance. what petraeus is proposing with counterinsurgency is nation building. what the president is proposing is building up the afghan national army. petraeus is in favor of that. one word you never hear david petraeus or any officer involved in the actual fighting use in afghanistan is the word "win." >> that's right. here's the thing. republicans are all over the lot on what you should do in afghanistan. so each of them, when we got their statements, each of them has to find a way to differentiate themselves from the president of the united states because, of course, they can't agree with the president because they want to run against the president. so mitt romney is saying i
didn't like the timetable. tim pawlenty is saying you have to win, although he sounds hawkish. and jon huntsman basically said we need to get out. so republicans are everywhere on this, and so in terms of opposing barack obama, it's not clear where they are. the property for barack obama is that his democrats are not with him either. >> gloria borger, joe klein, thanks so much for this. hold those thoughts because i'm sure we'll be coming back to this issue real soon. >> thanks. coming up, the hour's top stories and could today's decision by the administration relieve some of the pain at the pump? you name it. i've tried it. but nothing's helped me beat my back pain. then i tried this. it's salonpas. this is the relief i've been looking for. salonpas has 2 powerful pain fighting ingredients that work for up to 12 hours. and my pharmacist told me it's the only otc pain patch approved for sale
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sglfrnlths sglfrnlthsz. welcome back. here is the latest news you need to know right now. president obama is headlining three fundraisers tonight in new york city including one sponsored by the lesbian, gay, buy sexual and transgender leadership council. >> i believe gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country. the head of the nation's airport screeners told congress today tsa is working to change its policy on how screeners can search children, aiming to decrease, but not necessarily eliminate pat-downs. there's been widespread outrage after a video of a screener's pat-down of a 6-year-old went viral on the internet. at the casey anthony murder trial today her mother testified that she, and not her daughter,
conducted internet searches for key words including chloroform and alcohol in march, 2008. casey anthony's daughter disappeared later that year and was found dead. next up, the fbi catches up with one of its most wanted men. how did they find a massachusetts mob boss after 16 years on the run? at bayer, we've been relieving pain for over 100 years.
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ordered one of the most wanted men in the country to be taken to boston for his long delayed day in court. alleged mob boss james "whitey" bulger was on the run for 16 years until last night. cnn's deborah feyerick has more on who he is and what he said in court today. >> this wraps up a particularly painful chapter in fbi history, so much so that fbi director robert muller traveled there today. were it not for two agents working in boston, bulger may have been working all this time. instead they tipped him off to an impending arrest, slipped away and disappeared for 16 years, joe. >> as we've been following the coverage today, the head of the notorious winter hill gang which arguably ran south boston. give us an idea of some of the things he did. >> first of all, paid police and
federal agents to protected him and look the other way as he allegedly murdered people, his girlfriends. his criminal enterprise included extortion, gun-running for the ira in ireland and drugs -- actually charging traffickers as much as a million dollars to bring marijuana nah and cocaine through boston harbor. one former agent i spoke to said he was nasty, crazy, saying he would kill you for a good reason, a bad reason, no reason at all. estimates put his worth at about $50 million. some of which hidden in london, ireland, florida and montreal. >> tell us a little bit about how they caught him. >> well, the fbi really started thinking outside the box and rather than go out and search for bulger, they did a public service announcement for his girlfriend who has been traveling with him since they both disappeared 16 years ago. she's been out and about much more, more identifiable.
someone actually saw that public service announcement and called in. fbi agents sounded this apartment they were living in in santa monica, california, a third floor andment. living there under the name mr. and mrs. charlie gasco. they surrounded him. they said inside the apartment they uncovered around half million in cash, guns an fake ids for both he and his girlfriend, katherine greig. with us is boston herald columnist howie car whose book "hit men" is on book shelves at the moment. i went back in the files. this is one of the many transcripts of congressional hearings about the bulger case. a lot of the questions are about whether the fbi was complicit in allowing him to stay on the lamb for so long. did the fbi really want to find this guy? >> i think the fbi, the current generation of the fbi wanted to find him very badly. but in boston there were two
generations of fbi agents that were totally corrupted by this guy. whitey used to have a saying christmas is for cops and kids, meaning he paid off the fbi agents. there's one fbi agent from boston who died in prison while awaiting trial on murder charges in oklahoma, and a second fbi agent is just about to begin a life sentence for murder in florida in a different case. these are guys who worked with whitey bulger and were literally on his payroll. >> is it true that fbi informants actually would tell him that the fbi was closing in so he could get away? >> yes. he was told by the fbi that he was about to be indicted and he was given a heads up so he could escape the arrest that was going to happen to him. then when he was on the lamb, the fbi did not go to his associates to find out what
alias he was using. so for a year and a half, he was traveling the country under the alias thomas baxter. the fbi never bothered to check to see what the alias was. he was stopped for traffic violations by cops. they could have stopped him in '95 or '96 but the local cops didn't have his name because the fbi totally neglected to do the basic legwork that's necessary to find a fugitive. >> in the interest of completeness, the current fbi director has actually looked into all of this and tried to sort of clean it up. isn't that right? >> that is correct, yes. all of the fbi agents who committed crimes with whitey bulger, none of them are any longer on the bureau payroll. >> big picture now. just how big a figure was whitey in boston? >> he was just a towering figure, even though he was only about 5'7". not only was he a gangster, he
also had protection. his brother was the president of the state senate. whenever any state police moved against him, something -- for whatever reason, no one could put any fingerprints on it, they would always be demoted or transferred. they owned the fbi. the boston police almost had a commissioner from one of the corrupt fbi agents was almost appointed boston police commissioner. billy bulger tried to get his brother's employee as the new boss of the boston police. it was an amazing thing. there's an fbi document from one of the people that was in his gang who said bulger and flemmy, the other guy, and the boston police have a machine and the fbi has a machine and no one can fight the machines. that's literally the way it was. >> tell me about higgs brother william. there's a completely different story there that just adds to the movie quality of all this. >> right. his brother billy was a
politician and he worked his way up through the ranks in the massachusetts legislature and became the president of the massachusetts state senate. he always made jokes about whitey. he had a big st. patrick's day breakfast every year, hee and the governor, whether a democrat or republican, they'd make jokes about whitey. whitity won the lottery one year, won a million bucks. they had a lot of faufs about that ps. i remember an interview done with a mayor of boston, kevin white, he was talking about during the busing crisis in the mid '70s, he was at a club, an athletic club in south boston. and he said when he walked out he was almost afraid to leave because he was afraid that whitey bulger would kill him. the mayor's famous quote is -- about billy and whitey together. he said if my brother threatened to kill you, you would be
nothing but nice to me. the politicians were nothing but nice to billy bulger. >> if i remember correctly, billy bulger actually testified before congress. do you know if there was ever any evidence of corruption there? >> no. they sent congressional investigators up that summer to check on all these bills that punished whitey's enemies. they couldn't find any fingerprints on them. >> do you have any idea how close the fbi was to finding him before this final tip sent them out to santa monica? >> i thought they were just dealing with a lot of dead ends. i didn't think they were close at all. there hadn't been -- there had been various crazy rumors over the years. the most reticent one was he died in coast rica and katherine greig, his girlfriend, had him cremated. >> what do we know about her? >> she was a dental hygienist and married to a boston
firefighter, and the boston firefighter had two brothers, two twin brothers who were in the rackets. over the course -- in the 1960s and early 1970s, whitey ended up killing both of her brothers-in-law. that didn't stop her from developing a romantic attachment to him. one of whitey's ways of disposing of victims in the later years was to dismember the bodies of his victims. he was having a problem ripping out their teeth with rusty pliers, so he had katherine agreeing, the dental assistant go into a catalog in her boss's office and order state-of-the-art tooth ex-tractors that he could use in his dismemberment of bodies. >> my gosh. how does it happen, though, that these two brothers could be killed and she'd still remain romantically involved with this fellow?
how does that happen? >> you're asking the wrong guy. i asked myself the same question. everybody asked themselves the same question. she was, i think, a classic mol. she was attracteded to a gangster. she had -- he liked his women flashy. she had breast implants. she had facelifts, and they had a pair of poodles. i noticed that they had another dog that they were living with in santa monica. they loved pets. for some reason whitey had a deep attraction to canines. >> you've written a couple books about this, and obviously you've answered tons of questions about the bulger case. are there some things, though, that you'd like to get some answers on over the next few days? >> yeah. the question i'd like answered is where was he getting the money to live in this nice apartment in santa monica?
we know in the last years before he became a fugitive he went on many trips around the world with a lot of cash from his drug operations and he set up safe-deposit boxes all over the world. but the fbi found a lot of them. i don't know if they found them all. i'd like to know where did that money come from, that he was living on right now? did it come from the safe-deposit boxes or did it come from somebody in boston supplying him with dough, keeping him in the chips? that's the one question i'd like to know. if somebody was supplying him with dough now, the statute of limitations hasn't run out on that crime. i'd like to see whoever it is prosecuted. >> and where do you think it's going to be prosecuted? where are we going to see a trial? do you expect it to be a huge event? i'd think so. >> i think it will be a huge event. he'll be tried on federal charges, multiple murders in massachusetts.
but he's also facing murder charges in two death penalty states, florida and oklahoma. i'm not sure about florida, but i know oklahoma wants a chance to try him. oklahoma would be glad to put him to death, even at his advanced age. >> howie carr, radio host, columnist, arthur, thank you for coming in and talking to us about the case. >> thank you, joe. i appreciate it. next, a dramatic move to lower gasoline prices. we'll ask the former head of shell oil if it's going to work. [ male announcer ] bridgestone is using natural rubber,
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president obama has decided to open up the strategic petroleum reserve in order to drive down gas prices. today's announcement helped send the price of crude oil to a four-month low. the question, though, is will we see prices come down at the gas pump? let's check in with cnn money's poppy harlow. >> hi, joe. this was a rather move indeed. we've only tapped the reserve twice before since it was established all the way back in 1995. once was back in 1991 during desert storm and then after hurricane katrina. this news came as a surprise to most people, the u.s. government teaming up with the international energy agency and agreeing to release 60 million barrels of oil onto the global crude market over the next 30
days. the united states is going to provide half of that from our reserves which sit right now at a record high stockpile. energy secretary stephen chu saying the move is in response to supply disruptions in libya. so they're looking at it from that standpoint. he went on to say the department of energy will monitor the situation and take any additional steps if needed. now, in response, oil fell almost 4.5% today on that news. over the past month, take a look at the downward trend we've seen in crude. down almost 11% over the last month. here is why every american watching should feel. you'll feel this at the gas station. in the next few weeks you'll see gas prices fall. right now we have an average $3.61 a gallon for gasoline. some say this move could mean gas could fall as much as 50 cents a gallon by the end of the
season. the hope is if consumers pay less for gas and energy, they'll spend more and prop up this economy which we desperately need in this economy. we'll be watching closely to see how the market reacts on friday after the sell-off we saw on thursday. what i think is also interesting here is this intervention into the oil market came just one day after fed chairman ben bernanke made very troubling comments about the pace of economic growth in this country, basically saying this recovery is going to be more prolonged and more painful than previously thought. we'll keep an eye on it all come friday when the market opens. joe? now let's turn to the bigger picture and long-term prospects for lower gas prices. we're joined by john hofmeister, the founder and ceo of citizens for affordable energy, used to be the president of shell oil. the u.s. is releasing 30 million barrels. the international energy agency is releasing another 30 million
barrels. how much of a difference do you think this is actually going to make? >> near zero, joe. that's about 16 hours' worth of daily consumption for the world as a whole. we consume 86 million barrels a day. do the math. it's about 16, 17 hours. the political sound bite is very powerful, and today's three-plus-dollar drop in the price of oil sounds like it's related to that number. in fact, ben bernanke gave a stomach punch to the oil price yesterday when he talked about head winds and slower economic growth. that's what sent the oil price lower, not 60 million barrels, which won't really enter the system for a month or more. so it's not going to do anything to the long-term oil price prospect. >> so this is just political theater or what? >> yeah. it's little political theater, coming to the driving season, the july 4th weekend pretty
soon. it makes it look like elected officials are doing something for the consumer when, in fact, if they really wanted to do something for the consumer, this country would produce more of its own do mystic resources because the number one reason for high gasoline prices is the refusal of the united states of america to produce more of its own energy. it's as simple as that. libya is not the issue for the united states. it's the refusal by the united states to grant more drilling permits to produce more do mystic resources. >> we should back up there, steven chu, the energy secretary is a guy they said was doing this to compensate for the loss of gas -- petroleum coming from libya, but you don't think that's true. >> libyan oil goes to europe. we have an excess inventory in curbing, oklahoma, where the refineries along the gulf coast and the midwest have more oil than they need for the
foreseeable future because of the inventory situation in the united states. the real reason for increased crude oil price is growing demand in asia. u.s. demand has been flat to down. so china's increased demand. the libyan situation in europe. that's what's driven the price increase more recently. but again, the underlying supply side issue is a very big issue for the world and for this country because china is going to need more this year, more next year, more the following year, and if we don't increase our supply through domestic production, we are going to be hurting as a consuming nation. >> you know, normally when you hear politicians talking about releasing oil from the strategic petroleum reserve, usually it's when gas prices have really just sort of peaked. but gas prices have been on the decline since they peaked near historic highs earlier this year. and that makes it even more
confusing. it doesn't even seem logical to release oil from petroleum reserve at this time. >> it's them are dropping because overall domestic concerns about the lack of growth, the lack of jobs in america, for example, and so we are in a decline period until such time as the recovery strengthens and then we'll see it go up again. and we will see much higher gas prices potentially by the end of this year, beginning of next year if the economy recovers because we are not dealing with the underlying issue of supply versus demand from a global standpoint or a u.s. standpoint. so the political pandering this summer will simply fade into history quickly. this is not a solution to use your seed corn in order to influence the oil price as a way of somehow thinking you're going
to change the dynamics of oil demand and supply. >> besides the way it looks, does this have a tangible down side? saying the strategic reserve is meant to address true emergencies. so is it possible that releasing this amount of oil could affect the u.s. the ability respond to an emergency? >> there are two down sides. one is the only way refiners will buy this oil is if it's at a discounted price which means that taxpayers pick up the price difference between selling off the 30 million barrels and replacing it with higher cost crude oil down the road. the second is -- you're right. it drains 30 million barrels out of a 700 million barrel emergency supply that is
intended for when supply is actually cut off. but there is no cut-off from supply right now. inventories are high in the united states and nobody needs the oil. >> there is a question of jump starting the economy. even if it's only for optics sake, if it improves optimism. is that an upside at the enof the day? >> only if it's sustained. because we are not increasing the underlying supply and we are just throwing a rock in the pond basically to make the pond look bigger, when we get back to some level of economic growth we see gas prices skyrocket back to where they were in april and may. that's the underlying problem. not enough domestic supply to offset demand. >> straight talk from john hofmeister. thank you very much for coming in. >> you're welcome. stay there and find out why
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ken cook is president and cofounder of the environmental working group. tell me what you found. >> well, what we found is as we expected to find, that there really is a broken system here. you really don't have to live on a farm or work on a farm to get farm subsidies. you just have to have an investment interest, an inherited interest in a farm that gets subsidies somewhere else. right in the zip code i'm in now in san francisco and probably the one you're in in new york and washington, d.c., all around the country people are getting these absentee farm subsidy checks. it would be one thing if this were money to tide farmers over who maybe were living in the city temporarily, but these are folks who live in the city permanently. right now, farmers are making record amounts of money from the marketplace. we're setting records for crop prices. we are setting records for farm income. we are still sending money to
some of the biggest, prosperous farmers in the country and absentee land owners in san francisco, in the middle of washington, d.c., right in the middle of new york city. >> what's wrong with legitimate efforts to help domestic farms? we talked to the national farmers union and they said some of the payments could be done to support risk sharing agreements or to conserve land where they can't get income. what's wrong with helping farms regardless of where the people live? >> well, there is nothing wrong with owning a piece of land in the country. i would like one myself. why does the government have to be involved? what's happened is there are legitimate circumstances where people are living in the city -- maybe in minneapolis or des moines and they are operating a farm outside of there. often times under usda rules you have to make a phone call every few months and qualify as
participating in the management of the operation or have ownership interest. the big question really is we just saw congress last week slash budgets for low income people, hungry people, poor people. right across the board. it was as if the battle cry was women and children first except instead of rescuing them they were cutting the budgets for programs that support them. they threw in infants, too, by the way. >> got you. >> and we are spending huge amounts of money sending it to the biggest cities in the country and calling it farm subsidies. we ought to have reforms where the money goes to working family farms on the land. >> very quickly, the agriculture department says, hey, they put in reforms in 2008. then they were able to save $200 million. isn't that a good start? there were some reforms. >> well, there were some